The Princess and the Frog was a delight, both visually and musically. I can’t say that it broke any new ground in terms of music or visuals but the fact that it’s Disney’s’ first African-American princess was groundbreaking enough.
Tianna is a hard-working young woman who wants nothing more than to open her own restaurant in 1920s New Orleans. As she sings in her musical number, she’s almost there. Her rich friend, Lottie, wants nothing more than to marry a prince.
And a prince does arrive in the person of Prince Naveen. Naveen however is flat broke as his parents have cut him off without a red cent because Naveen prefers to enjoy himself and not be the responsible future king he’s supposed to be.
Naveen has come to New Orleans looking for a rich woman to marry but he runs afoul of the Shadow Man, a local voodoo practitioner, who turns him into a frog so that Naveen’s valet can be made to look like the prince, marry the rich heiress and the Shadow Man can have all that money.
Naveen, having heard, like Tianna, the story of the Frog Prince as a child goes in search of a princess to turn him human again. He comes across Tianna, who has just had her dreams of owning her restaurant dashed.
Tianna is dressed like a princess but it’s only a costume as it’s Mardi Gras. But Naveen does not know that. He convinces Tianna that if she kisses him, once he marries Lottie he will give her the money for her restaurant. However, because Tianna isn’t a real princess when she kisses Naveen she turns into a frog also.
From there on, the two must find a way to become human again while making their way through the bayou, avoiding being eaten or hunted, and learning that the two of them were, of course, meant for each other.
They are aided in their journey by a love-sick Cajun firefly (who is in love with a star) and a gator who wants nothing more than to play jazz but, well, he’s a gator. There’s a kind of screwball comedy aspect to Tianna and Naveen’s journey toward love which was very sweet.
I also liked the fact that, unlike a lot of animated movies today, there were no anachronistic jokes. All the characters were rooted in the time and milieu of 1920’s Louisiana, and whether it was New Orleans or the Bayou, the dialogue and jokes were of that time period.
It brought out the kid in me and the way I’ve been feeling of late, trust me, that’s a very good thing. The audience for the early morning showing I went to consisted of mostly little girls (and some little boys) with their parents or grandparents and judging from the reactions I think they all pretty much enjoyed the movie.
It’s definitely a child’s movie with its proverbial lessons of hard work, believing in oneself and learning to be worthy of love and a happily ever after, but the child in me loved it. And in the world we live in today where public conversation–especially in the media–seem to be nothing but cynicism and criticism and pessimism, maybe those aren’t bad lessons for us adults to take to heart.